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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Another Family Pet Killed by Federal Agents

This past August in Gresham, Oregon, the McCurtain family’s 7-year-old Border collie named Maggie was strangled after being caught in a body-gripping kill trap that had been set for aquatic fur-bearing nutria along a lake front in an affluent residential neighborhood by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program. The trap was placed on neighborhood common property approximately 20 feet from the McCurtains’ property line—an area where the family’s children regularly looked for frogs, fed the ducks, or retrieved fly balls that went over the fence. The trap snapped down around Maggie’s head and neck and Denise McCurtain could only look on as her neighbor futilely tried to free her dog. It took nearly 30 minutes before Maggie could be freed, but by then she was dead. Denise relays the harrowing story in this video by Oregon-based Predator Defense.

Maggie
Maggie was a victim of a federal government wildlife-killing
program. photo courtesy of: Predator Defense

Maggie was a victim of a federal government wildlife-killing program that mostly benefits private livestock ranchers in the West, but occasionally intrudes into the heart of suburbia. Each year, with their arsenal of traps, poisons, and shooting from the air, federal agents kill tens of thousands of predators and other mammals. If birds are added to the total, the numbers soar into the millions. Many of the deaths include innocent or “non-target” individuals, including many family pets.

The federal Wildlife Services program has been in the business of killing wildlife for more than a hundred years, and was primarily responsible for the removal of charismatic species such as the gray wolf from the American landscape. It’s the U.S. taxpayers who foot a large share of the bill for the killing—spending millions of dollars each year on lethal predator control—just to benefit special interests. But tragedies such as Maggie’s death remind us of the true cost of these ill-advised killing campaigns and the reckless, inhumane, and indiscriminate methods that are used.

Click here to contact U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and tell him that USDA should stop killing wildlife and prohibit the use of deadly toxic poisons. There is a legitimate case to be made for a federal agency that helps to solve wildlife conflicts, providing training and research on best practices with an emphasis on innovation and non-lethal solutions. But Wildlife Services in its current form is a relic of the past, needlessly exterminating wildlife and killing and maiming family pets. It’s time to find a new way forward.

 

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